Culturally diverse communities are powerful: connected by their history and ancestry, there's a deep, collective understanding that helps people of colour take pride in their background. But there's also a misconception that they're not interested in the arts when really, they lack the resources, knowledge, and support in a world that's quick to shoot them down. Luckily, there are heaps of Australian organisations actively working to amplify their voices and helping disadvantaged communities empower themselves through creativity.
Image: Coptic Youth Radio Program
If you live in Melbourne you've probably heard of 3ZZZ Radio, Melbourne's largest ethnic community radio station. They've been going live since 1989 with an estimated 400,000 people tuning in every week, and they encourage broadcasters from culturally diverse backgrounds to bring their valuable and unique knowledge to the radio waves. Representing nearly 63 ethnic groups, 3ZZZ is primarily funded by listener subscriptions and donations, and definitely worth lending your ear to.
At first glance, YEVU is just a cool fashion label that sells funky, colourful prints, but if you look a little deeper, you'll realise that the brand runs with a significant purpose. This social enterprise collaborates with women in Ghana to create informal sector jobs and sustainable income, carrying out the design and production process through their Accra workshop. Sourcing all their prints from Accra and Kumasi's wholesale markets, a team of Ghanian women then sew and distribute the products with an above average living wage as well as technical training programs like free apprenticeships. The cherry on top? They're super transparent about it all.
Image: Show Me The Way
SHOW ME THE WAY
Here's one for the Screen & Media fans—since 2008, 77 films have been made by refugee, Aboriginal, and Torres Strait Islander students through Show Me The Way's workshops and mentoring. With the help of industry professionals, students film documentaries about local heroes, getting the chance to boost their production skills and watch a special screening of their own creation. Above all, the program gives students the self-confidence and appreciation for formal education that manifests itself in increased school retention.
Image: Luke Byrne
MUSIC IN EXILE
Run by Joe Alexander of Bedroom Sucks Records fame, Music in Exile is a recent initiative to shine a light on musicians from culturally or linguistically diverse backgrounds. One of these is South-Sudanese asylum seeker Gordon Koang who's found a dedicated fanbase in Australia, even taking the stage at Meredith Music Festival last year. Representing artists from Cuba, China, Eritea, and more, all of the label's income goes straight to the artists too, the exact amount of which you can actually see on their website.
Image: Media Diversity Australia
MEDIA DIVERSITY AUSTRALIA
This nationwide not-for-profit will be of particular help to those in Entertainment Journalism and Digital & Social Media, fighting for news media to reflect Australia's real diversity. Media Diversity Australia is dedicated to supporting disadvantaged media professionals by providing networking opportunities, resources, and scholarships, as well as transforming the industry by helping existing organisations tackle diversity in an inclusive, respectful, and collaborative way.
This blog was written for Cultural Diversity Week, as Collarts encourages curiosity, conversation, and community from 21–29 March.